Wheelchair Athletes

As society and technology has progressed, the role of wheelchairs has changed and expanded. Today, wheelchairs are used for more than just helping disabled individuals get from point A to point B. Disabled athletes are making history in the field of sports which include tennis, basketball and swimming just to name a few. Paralympics begin in 1940s in England. During World War II, soldiers who were physically and psychologically wounded were treated with sports to help motivate their recovery. In 1948, the Olympic Games in London launched the first Paralympics to recognize the talents of disabled athletes.


Wheelchair basketball is considered to be one of the major disabled sports practiced, recognized both by the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) and International Paralympics Committee (ICP). The sport maintains a standard basketball court and a 10-foot basketball hoop. Some rules have been modified in consideration for the wheelchairs. “Traveling” is when a player touches his wheels more than twice while dribbling the ball. In some countries, such as England, Canada and Australia, disabled athletes compete with other athletes in mixed teams.

  • NWBA – The official website for the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA).
  • IWBF – International Wheelchair Basketball Federation World Championships website, regulations and events.
  • Wheelchair Basketball – Overview of the game, rules and competitions.

Track and Field

Wheelchair track and field, commonly known as ‘road racing’ requires a specially made racing chair that gives the heart an intense aerobic workout. Certain rules and regulations are in place for wheelchair racing that requires the wheelchair to fit certain standards provided by the IPC Athletics guidelines. Wheelchair athletes can also participate in field events such as discus, shot put and javelin. Combined events are also provided for certain athletes such as throwing and jumping events.

  • Road Racing – Wheelchair track and field (road racing) wheelchair related information.
  • Track and Field – Description, schedule, training, equipment and photo gallery of wheelchair track and field games.
  • History – The history of wheelchair athletics, benefits and the Paralympics.


Wheelchair rugby, originally called ‘murderball’ was developed in Canada in 1977. The sport is played by two teams with up to 12 players each. Played on a standard basketball court, players score by passing the ball across the goal line. Both of the wheelchair wheels must cross the line while the athlete has the ball to count as a goal. The player with the ball must pass or bounce within ten seconds. Physical contact amongst the wheelchairs is permitted and the games consist of four-eight minute intervals.

  • USQRA – The official website for the United States Quad Rugby Association.
  • IWRF – International Wheelchair Rugby Association information and rules.
  • Paralympics – Official track and field wheelchair rugby athletes in the Paralympics games.


Wheelchair swimming provides water resistance which can tone and strengthen muscles, reduce stress on muscles and joints and increases circulation. Swimming pools must have various lifting rehabilitative equipment or a walk-in ramp to safely exit or enter the pool. Inflatable flotation devices, life vests and waist belts are commonly used to help the individuals stay relaxed and safe while in the pool.

  • Swimming – Aqua fitness information, benefits and safety regulations for wheel swimming sports.
  • Wheelchair Sports – Official Wheelchair Sports Victoria with information about the sport, how to get involved and major events.
  • Swimming Wheelchairs – What to look for in a pool wheelchair for wheelchair swimming sports.


Wheelchair tennis is similar to traditional tennis as it requires the same size courts, ball and rackets. Two differences are the use of special designed wheelchairs and the rule that the ball may bounce up to two times. Another rule is that the second ball may bounce outside the field. International tennis tournaments are provided by the International Tennis Federation in association with the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour. The sport has become increasingly popular and was introduced into the Paralympics games in 1988.

  • ITF – The International Tennis Federation official website with general information, tournaments and rules.
  • USTA – United States Tennis Association features and tournaments.
  • Wheelchair Tennis – Introduction to wheelchair tennis and athlete videos.

Winter Sports

Wheelchair winter sports include a variety of competitive games that require endurance and training. The prime objective of the Wheelchair Winter Sports Foundation is to enable people who cannot ski, skate or board due to a disability have the chance to participate in these activities. The WWSF offer an Alpine competition, ‘dry’ slope skiing, adaptive skiing, Nordic skiing, ice sled skating, ice sled racing and ice sledge hockey. Wheelchair curling is a popular sports of the winter Paralympics games with similar rules of regular curling.

  • Wheelchair Winter Sports – Wheelchair Winter Sports Foundation (WWSF) winter sports information and official games.
  • Curling – Wheelchair curling information, videos, photos and spectator guide.
  • Paralysis Resource Center – Winter sports information for individuals living with paralysis.